Maximizing Leadership: Chapter 2

Maximizing School Librarian Leadership: Building Connections for Learning and Advocacy will be published by ALA Editions in June, 2018. As a preview to the book, I am using one blog post a month to share a one-page summary of each of the nine chapters in the book.

Chapter 2: Job-Embedded Professional Development

“A team is not a group of people who work together. A team is a group of people who trust each other” (Sinek, Mead, and Docker 2017, 104).

Professional learning embedded in the everyday practice of educators is an effective way to transform teaching and learning. In this model, school librarians can serve as professional learning leaders. They enact this role in a number of ways: through providing formal staff development; by serving as a member or team leader in one or more professional learning communities (PLCs); and through classroom-library collaboration, which involves trusting colleagues in coplanning, coteaching, and coassessing learning outcomes.

While all of these contributions to professional learning are important, collaboration for instruction gives school librarians the optimum opportunity to learn with and from their colleagues. Coteaching is personalized learning for educators. It is aligned with adult learning theory that puts educators in the driver’s seat—controlling the content and context of their learning while they solve self-identified instructional problems.

Planning for instruction is teacherly work. It requires connecting curricula with students’ interests and motivation and making learning experiences relevant. It involves determining goals, objectives, and assessments. It includes identifying compelling resources and effective instructional strategies. Through the hands-on implementation of coplanned lessons or units, educators monitor student learning and the success or areas for improvement in their instruction.

What you will find in this chapter:

1. A Rationale for Coteaching as Effective Job-Embedded Professional Development;
2. A Description of Classroom-Library Coteaching Approaches;
3. A Levels of Library Services and Instructional Partnerships Matrix;
4. An Explanation and Application of the Diffusion of Innovations Model:
5. A Coplanning and Coteaching Self-assessment Instrument.

Coteaching offers educators the opportunity to hone their craft while teaching “actual students in real time, with the taught curriculum, available resources and tools, and within the supports and constraints of their particular learning environments” (Moreillon 2012b, 142). School librarians add value when they co-collect evidence (student learning outcomes data) to demonstrate the effectiveness of their teaching in terms of what is important to colleagues and administrators. Data points the way toward continuous instructional improvement. Coteaching also creates the opportunity for school librarians to co-lead in a culture of adult as well as student learning in their schools.

Works Cited

Moreillon, Judi. 2012. “Job-embedded Professional Development: An Orchard of Opportunity.” In Growing Schools: School Librarians as Professional Developers, edited by Debbie Abilock, Kristin Fontichiaro, and Violet Harada, 141-156. Santa Barbara: Libraries Unlimited.

Sinek, Simon, David Mead, and Peter Docker. 2017. Find Your Why: A Practical Guide for Discovering Purpose for You and Your Team. New York: Penguin.

Image Credit: Word Cloud created at

Coteaching Inquiry and Reading Comprehension: A Perfect Match

PM_logo_3_sizedToday, I am facilitating a half-day preconference workshop titled: “Coteaching Inquiry Learning and Reading Comprehension Strategies: A Perfect Match.” I am a long-time practitioner and staunch advocate for the school librarian’s instructional partner role.

In this workshop, I bring together two areas of teaching and learning about which I am passionate: inquiry learning and reading comprehension strategies (RCS). These two processes can be aligned in order to increase students’ success with both. Inquiry and RCS are metacognitive processes that invite learners to think about their thinking. They can help learners grow their ability to “learn how to learn.”

And both processes are best taught with a coteaching approach. In the workshop, participants will review these processes, complete a puzzle that spotlights how they are aligned, and practice coteaching close reading with literature that can lead to an inquiry unit of study. Coteaching RCS builds on the school librarian’s strengths in teaching information literacy skills and makes a more successful learning outcome for students.

When classroom teachers, specialists, and school librarians combine their knowledge, skills, and talents, everybody wins!

This workshop is based on my previously published books regarding coteaching RCS as well as one that I am authoring: Building a Culture of Collaboration: School Librarian Leadership and Advocacy (ALA Editions 2016).

The AASL Conference is just getting underway today. If you are not in Columbus and attending this event, check it out on Twitter at #aasl15, on the Knowledge Quest Blog, and on the AASL Facebook page.

P.S. Since I am not able to be at Treasure Mountain this morning, I am sharing my thank-you note video to Dr. Loertscher via the BACC.

Word cloud created at

Seeking Online Professional Development: #txlchat

This month the BACC co-bloggers will share snippets of our research in school librarianship and preservice school librarian education. One of our goals is to provide practicing school librarians (SLs) with research-based evidence for how they prioritize their teaching and other professional activities. Another is to spotlight how the co-bloggers prepare preservice SLs for their future leadership roles in their school libraries.

logoSLs must make a commitment to lifelong learning. The changing educational environments in which we work require it. Whether we lead by integrating new resources, tools, or instructional strategies into our teaching or respond proactively to new required curriculum initiatives, effective SLs are called to be leaders in change and to model continuous learning for students and faculty alike.

In order to stay at the forefront, many SLs are making a regular practice of engaging in online professional development (PD). Webinars and social media groups for networking and learning are growing resources, particularly for librarians who serve in districts without district-level supervisors who organize PD for their cadre of professionals. Twitter chat groups are one such venue for self-regulated PD.

In the last academic year, I had the opportunity and pleasure of studying a Texas-focused school librarian Twitter group. The #txlchat meets on Tuesday evenings from 8:00 to 8:30 p.m. CT during the school year. The chat founders, @sharongullett, @_MichelleCooper, and @EdneyLib, and selected core group members actively supported my research by participating in virtual interviews regarding the importance of this PD and networking venue in their professional lives. Twenty-five #txlchat participants completed an online survey and shared their experiences of learning and connecting with this group of job-alike colleagues.

Thanks to the founders’ commitment to archiving the weekly #txlchats on a Weebly site, I had access to data from forty-five chats—from the very first chat in April 2013 through February 24th, 2015 (the last chat included in my study).

This is just a glimpse of what I learned. During the period of my study, 111 Texas librarians and 121 librarians, authors, and others from out of state participated in the chats. It was not surprising that the most frequent chat topic during the period of my study was technology. Thirteen of the 45 chats I reviewed (29%) focused on using technology tools in the library program. Connecting on Skype, being a “connected” librarian, and social media marketing were among the chat topics with the greatest number of participants, tweets, and retweets.

I learned that #txlchat members have a strong sense of belonging. The founders and core group members who rotate moderator responsibilities are committed to making sure all participants’ voices are heard and valued. Everyone involved expressed pride in their participation–both in learning from others and from sharing their knowledge and expertise with the group. My complete study report will appear in the next issue of School Libraries Worldwide. See citation below.

As you consider how you will access PD opportunities in the coming school year, I hope you will consider Twitter as a possible venue. Everyone is invited to participate on Tuesday, September 1st in the first #txlchat of the 2015-2016 school year. Check it out on Twitter at #txlchat.

Coming soon: Moreillon, Judi. “#schoollibrarians Tweet for Professional Development: A Netnographic Case Study of #txlchat.” School Libraries Worldwide 34.3 (2015).

#txlchat logo used with permission

School Librarians Are Connectors

collaboration_sizedThis month the BACC co-bloggers are previewing our upcoming (May 19th) Texas Library Association Webinar. See the end of this post for information. Along with our guest blogger, Melissa Johnston, each of us will be previewing our piece of the collaboration puzzle in our May blog posts. BACC co-blogger Karla Collins will offer the final contribution this month with a post-Webinar wrap-up.

Malcolm Gladwell, author of The Tipping Point: How Little Things Make a Difference, notes that “connectors” have the “ability to span many different worlds,” which may be a “function of something intrinsic to their personality, some combination of curiosity, self-confidence, sociability, and energy” (47). Thanks to our big picture view of our school learning communities, school librarians are positioned to be connectors. (And hopefully we embody at least some, if not all, of the dispositions Gladwell associates with connectors.)

When we are engaged in building a culture of collaboration in our school learning communities, we determine the best ways to meet the needs of each of our library stakeholders. Through communication and collaboration and to use a construction metaphor, we build relationships that can help cement the foundation of a culture of learners—young and older—who strive to make school a joyful, relevant, and effective learning environment for all.

On Thursday, I will introduce collaboration with students as one of the pillars necessary for building a culture of collaboration.

Webinar Information:
May 19, 2-3pm Central Time: Building a Culture of Collaboration (Collaboration Series) – FREE
How can you increase collaboration in your school learning community? Building a Culture of Collaboration at Edublogs co-bloggers will share strategies for reaching out and developing collaborative relationships with four library stakeholder groups: administrators (Judy Kaplan), classroom teachers and specialists (Melissa Johnston), students (Judi Moreillon), and families and community members (Lucy Santos Green). Bring your commitment to building partnerships, your experiences, your ideas and your questions to the conversation.

Register at

All Webinars will be recorded. A link to the recording will be sent to all registrants (i.e. you may want to register even if you know you cannot attend the live event). All Webinars will carry Continuing Education credit.

Works Cited

Gladwell, Malcolm. The Tipping Point: How Little Things Make a Difference. New York: Little, Brown, 2000. Print.

Maxwell, Scott. “Working Together Teamwork Puzzle Concept.” 2007. Web. 25 April 2015 <>.

Online Professional Development: A Key to Adult Learning

mouse_keyThis month the Building a Culture of Collaboration bloggers will share their ideas and experiences related to innovation. This week, I will be sharing two examples of virtual professional development.

Library 2.014 was the 4th-annual virtual conference hosted by the San José State University (SJSU) School of Information; this year it was held in real time on October 8th and 9th. Presenters from around the world shared their work in this free global forum. Attendees could have participated on the actual conference days or view recordings and YouTube video archives after the event.

Last week I had the opportunity to attend a Library Journal webcast  entitled “Participatory, Continuous, Connected: Top Trends from Library 2.014,” moderated by Michael Stephens, SJSU assistant professor. I was most interested in learning about the top trends identified during this year’s conference. In the webcast, Samantha Adams Becker talked about emerging digital communication formats; Ayyoub Ajmi described one academic library’s experiences using Google Glass; and Susan Hildreth shared do-it-yourself (DIY) learning opportunities that are taking hold in libraries and museums.

Dr. Stephens framed the 3-part webcast with this concept: “Library of Classroom.” He and the speakers challenged librarians to conceive or reconceive of the libraries as physical and virtual continuous experiential learning spaces. This concept aligns perfectly with my philosophy and experience of school libraries.

Ms. Becker shared highlights from the NMC (New Media Consortium) Horizon Report – Library Edition 2014. (These reports are targeted to different constituencies; you may be interested in the K-12 Edition as well.) Ms. Becker talked about removing books to make space in libraries for face-to-face social gatherings and group learning. The Texas Woman’s University Pioneer Center, located in the Blagg-Huey Library on the Denton campus, is a great example of that concept.

Ms. Becker shared a collaboration between Wikipedia and the Online Computer Library Center (OCLC), which librarians may be especially interested in exploring further. She also talked about embeddable technologies—planted under the skin. An implantable GPS is already being tested. The youth in my community will be delighted to learn that implantable ear buds are not a pipedream!!!

These were just some of the innovations and trends Ms. Becker shared from the Horizon Report. Check it out!

On Thursday, I will share some of the innovations Susan Hildreth, Director, Institute of Museum and Library Services, talked about and what Texas school librarians are doing with the concept of badging. Please tune in again.

Copyright-free Image from

People Create Change

Deep_Change_cropEdSurge is an organization that connects “the emerging community of edtech entrepreneurs and educators.” They recently published a graphic called “How Teachers Are Learning: Professional Development Remix.”

The graphic shows “old school” professional development, including all-day workshops, observations, and professional learning communities. (Personally, I wish they hadn’t included PLCs in the old school model…)  In their new model, technology tools provide linkages to personalized professional development that meets the “just-in-time” needs of adult learners (teachers).

Lest we lose sight of the importance of the whole school culture, I believe this new model must be placed alongside an article published on EdSurge in April by Ben Wilkoff: “People Create Change Not Products.” Ben Wilkoff, who is the Director of Personalized Professional Learning for the Denver Public Schools, reminds us that it is the “people implementing tools that make or break it [professional development].”

I couldn’t agree more and encourage everyone to read his article. I know that while I have learned a great deal through technology tools, I have learned the most from coplanning and coteaching with colleagues in the same room, at the same time, working through challenges and sharing successes with real students in real time.

Technology-facilitated learning has a starring role in 21st-century education, but it can keep preK-12 students isolated from one another and educators isolated from colleagues. An individual learner, child or adult, simply cannot make the lasting changes we want to see in education and in the world that a collective of students or educators can.

If you believe that building a culture of collaboration can support people in making change, consider Ben Wilkoff’s current manifesto for professional development as you plan for the new school year:
•    Community over Content
•    Friends over Features
•    Conversation over Credit
•    People over Products

Works Cited

Edsurge. “How Teachers Are Learning: Professional Development Remix.” Edsurge. Web. 7 Aug. 2014. <>.

Quinn, Robert E. Deep Change: Discovering the Leader Within. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 1996. Print. (Image created with Microsoft PowerPoint)

Wilkoff, Ben. “People Create Change Not Products.” 16 Apr. 2014. EdSurge. Web. 7 Aug. 2014. <>.

Summer “Time”

Tropical beach scene on a sunny day in Oahu, Hawaii

As a teacher or teacher librarian, how often have you heard, “Oh you are so lucky, you have the summer off!”?  Of course those are the folks who are on the outside looking in. Those of us in the trenches know otherwise.  Summer time is just a different wavelength for many in the field of education.  In fact, most teachers I have known, are juggling family time, recreational adventures, and personal professional learning in the few weeks between the wrap up for one school year in May or June, and the preparation for another that may start in the first weeks of August.  The idea that educators are basking in a long summer hiatus is a pipe dream.

Even in the reboot and recharge mode, teachers are thinking ahead to the challenges of a new set of students, and how to meet their individual needs. Time without required meetings, committees, and assessments is time to reflect on the big picture. What has been successful and what needs improvement?  That kind of time is precious during the crush of the school schedule, and summer provides an opportunity for R and R-and collaboration.  As teacher librarians we have to make those connections with our colleagues.

In a recent AASL Blog, Brooke Ahrens asks, “When is the best time?”  In her post, Let’s Get Together Thursday, (June 12, 2014)  she shares the experience of working with colleagues in her district in curriculum and program planning just after classes ended for the year.  As she says, working together beyond the constraints of standards and grades was refreshing, but mental fatigue influenced their progress. She wonders if August would be better, but realizes that time is problematic also.  Collaboration and input are important, but what are some possible alternatives to make it happen?

During my years as a teacher librarian, I found that July was a great month for collaborating informally with my colleagues.  I would sneak into school early a couple of mornings a week to get my book orders in, unpack books and supplies, or revamp a section of the collection. More often than not, a teacher friend would pop in to say hello. Then the conversation would segue to the upcoming school year and what the teacher wanted to accomplish, and how I could help. Without the pressure of a packed schedule, we could tease out projects that we could plan ahead.   Asynchronous collaboration through Google and other social media applications make planning that much easier now.

My school district offered summer incentives for curriculum planning, and I often participated as a resource person in science, social studies, and language arts.  College credit for curriculum work was available for participants. Laptops or other new devices were provided  for developing curriculum units integrating technology.  Stipends were offered for teacher leaders who trained others in a train the trainer model.  When I signed on to take part, I often found that other teachers saw me as a true colleague, and I felt part of the team. I understood their challenges, and they understood mine because we had a chance to have deep discussions and share expertise.  In mid summer, when most of the teachers had a few weeks to unwind, we found mental energy to be creative and innovative.  That energy and planning carried us through during the implementation of our ideas in the next school year and beyond.

So, in July, take advantage of the summer mind of your colleagues. It may be the best time for initiating collaboration.  Join a district summer work group if it is available. They usually only work for a week or so. See if any of your colleagues are lurking in their classrooms when you are at school, too.  Laugh, chat, and make a plan.  Send out some ideas for new books or resources via email, or your blog or website. Stay in touch through Twitter and Facebook.  Find a new application that you can share.  Screencast a tutorial or find one on YouTube.  Cultivate your garden of ideas and invite your friends to the harvest.


Happy summer!  And don’t forget your recreational reading!



Ahrens, Brooke. (2014, June 12).  Let’s Get Together Thursday-What is the Best Time?  AASL Blog. (weblog)

Image: Microsoft ClipArt



Collaboration in the News, Part II

school_new_collaborative_culturesEarlier this week, I quoted literacy educator Regie Routman from an International Reading Association publication. I mentioned that the National Council of Teachers (NCTE) and the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD) are also calling for collaborative school cultures.

In this week’s NCTE’s InBox: News, Views, and Ideas You Can Use email blast kicked off the week’s communication with a link to the National Center for Literacy Education Survey and this information:

“77% of Educators Surveyed: Literacy Is Not Just the Responsibility of English Teachers. This is the #1 finding in a survey of 10,000 educators from all roles, grade levels, and subject areas, who agreed that literacy is one of the most important parts of their job.”

School librarians who have developed strategies for coteaching reading comprehension and other literacy skills can help colleagues at all grade levels and in all disciplines hone effective instruction in literacy. Meeting teachers’ self-identified needs can firmly establish the school librarian’s role in the academic program of the school.

When ASCD selected their “Best of 2012-2013” articles from the publication Educational Leadership, Rick DuFour and Mike Mattos’s article “How Do Principals Really Improve Schools?” made the cut. As long-time award-winning principals and researchers, DuFour and Mattos combine their testimonials and research when they attest that the most powerful strategy for focusing on learning is creating “the collaborative culture and collective responsibility of a professional learning community (PLC).”

These are the questions they pose for PLC team members:
• What knowledge, skills, and dispositions should all students acquire as a result of the unit we’re about to teach?
• How much time will we devote to this unit?
• How will we gather evidence of student learning throughout the unit in our classrooms and at its conclusion as a team?
• How can we use this evidence of learning to improve our individual practice and our team’s collective capacity to help students learn, to intervene for students unable to demonstrate proficiency, and to enrich the learning for students (DuFour & Mattos, 2013, p. 38).

School librarians who are skilled at instructional design and evidence-based practice are positioned to be leaders on PLCs. When your principal calls for team leaders for this year’s PLCs, will you be one of the leaders at the table?


DuFour, R., & Mattos, M. (2013). How do principals really improve schools? Educational Leadership, 70(7), 34-40.

NCTE. (2013). NCTE InBox: News, Views, and Ideas You Can Use. September 4, 2013.

Newspaper Clipping Created at

Leadership and Collaboration


As co-teachers and instructional partners, school librarians focus on collaborative opportunities with individual or teams of educators within a school community.  Many school districts have been providing professional development for educators by establishing Professional Learning Communities (PLC).   The PLC is a vehicle for collaborative planning and decision making that focuses on improving student learning.  To be successful participants, educators need training to understand the process for and commitment to collaboration that builds the collective capacity of a school system.  An effective PLC can change attitudes and transform teaching and learning in a powerful way.

School librarians are positioned to take leadership roles in PLCs, and should advocate for a place at the table.  Having honed a variety of collaboration skills of various levels, school librarians are familiar with setting goals, timelines, assessments, formulating projects, and are adept at analyzing data.  There are many configurations for PLC teams, and the school librarian should have a pivotal role in content areas.  Unfortunately, in many districts, the PLC teams may not integrate the school librarian into content or grade level groups.  Many times the PLCs are set to meet during the scheduled time for a class visit to the library/media center when the librarian is expected to supervise the class.  That prevents meaningful participation, and limits the expertise and knowledge that the librarian can share with the group.

Stepping into a leadership role means that the school librarian needs to be proactive and stay ahead of the curve.  Find out what is happening in your district or school.  What are the initiatives?  What are the goals for educators and student learning?  What curriculum changes are proposed?  Be ready to explain to administrators, teachers, parents, community members, and students how the school library program and resources will benefit the transformation of learning.  You are the expert, the information specialist, and can facilitate learning for all stakeholders.

If you want to realize your own capacity as an educational leader, I recommend two readings that have influenced my thinking recently.  One was an article in May/June 2013 issue of Knowledge Quest, “The Make-Good Mission.”  Michael Edson, the Smithsonian’s director of web and new media strategy, talks about the possibilities for the school library as a place for meeting the challenges of “scope, scale, and speed” presented by information in present day.  We simply can’t continue to do things the way we have done them in the past.  Organizations have to change from within, not top down.  We all have the capacity to contribute, not just receive information.

Change from within is one of the messages also in Leaders of Learning: How District, School, and Classroom Leaders Improve Student Achievement (DuFour and Marzano, 2011).  Two leaders in organizational systems and education explore how change and transformation can come about using the collective expertise of all stakeholders.  DuFour shares how PLC teams that are created and supported by district administrators and principals, can bring about improvements in student learning.  The training and support is imperative to make a successful outcome for all.  Collaboration skills have to be learned and the authors offer a blueprint.  Marzano clarifies how to establish what is important for students to learn and how to assess their learning.

At the AASL Conference in November 2013,  there will be sessions that focus on leadership roles and require specific collaboration skills.  Come to conference and gather more ideas to add to your leadership/advocacy tool kit!


DuFour, Richard and Robert Marzano. 2011. Leaders of learning: How district, school, and classroom leaders improve student achievement. Bloomington, IN: Solution Tree Press.

Edson, Michael.  2013. The Make-good mission: Evaluating and embracing new possibilities for discovery and innovation in school libraries.  Knowledge Quest 41 (5): 12-18.

Photo: Microsoft clipart


Cross Pollination of Ideas and Understandings

Spring is finally emerging here in the North Country, and the bees are buzzing, birds are singing. Melissa’s post last week about encouraging partnerships with public and other libraries had me thinking about collaboration as a cross pollination of ideas and understandings. When school librarians have a chance to meet and work with others in the field whose overall mission is the same, but different according to parameters of their workplaces, the benefits move both ways.

Earlier in the year, I was invited to present at the New England Association of Independent School Librarians at their annual meeting on April 12, 2013. While I was excited to take on the task, I realized that I really had limited first-hand knowledge of independent schools, and I was eager to learn more. My background includes many years in the public school system and in a public university, so I did a bit of digging to understand my audience. What I found is that there is a range of independent schools for students of all ages, from those that are focused on college prep, to those that provide a niche environment for learning depending on the interests and abilities of the student. While independent schools are governed by a board of trustees, some are combinations of private/public schools, some are based on religious or organizational affiliation, and many are funded exclusively by tuition, donors, and endowments. They include day schools and boarding schools and are not for profit, and are not encumbered or constrained by public school regulations.

Libraries are an important part of the school experience in independent schools, and are often extolled as indicators of the quality of the school. The National Association of Independent Schools has established Guidelines of Professional Practice for Librarians, and there are many regional independent school library organizations.  There is a separate section within the American Association for School Librarians (AASL) for Independent Schools (ISS), and therefore, independent school librarians have access to professional networks that meet their particular concerns, which are not so different than those of public school librarians.

The April NEAISL meeting was held at Burr and Burton Academy in Manchester, Vermont, and attendees came from across New England and upper New York State, in spite of the snow, sleet and freezing rain that is typical of early spring in Vermont.  Susan Ballard, AASL President, was the keynote speaker who suggested ways to advocate for school libraries through marketing or branding, a topic that resonates with all school librarians.  Throughout the day, in formal sessions and informal discussion, I listened for the common themes that connected independent school librarians. Enthusiastic about their work and their schools, they voiced familiar concerns about:

  • Effective technology integration
  • Engaging digital native students in learning
  • Advocacy
  • Changing space needs for libraries-learning commons
  • Diversity or lack of diversity in student populations
  • Collaboration with other faculty
  • Students with special needs or ELL
  • AP courses-yes or no
  • College research ready

While I did not hear very much about Common Core Standards, I must admit, it was a relief not to have that on the table.  As I listened and learned from independent school librarians, I realized more than ever, that dedication to library service for students and staff is the common denominator for all of us in the profession.  No matter where we work,   in urban or rural areas, in large or small public or independent schools, we are all committed to our mission, and we have a lot to share. I want to thank Merlyn Miller, Library Director at Burr and Burton for the opportunity to share, listen, and learn with such a diverse group of professional school librarians.

In order to take advantage of cross pollination of understandings, I urge you to seek out your fellow school librarians to compare notes and ideas. If you are in a public school, plan to visit a local independent school.  If you are in an independent school, locate a nearby public school.  There is a lot to learn from different perspectives, and enjoy your visit!


American Association of School Librarians Independent Schools Section. Online. .

Conference program for New England Association of Independent School Librarians. Online.

Guidelines of professional practice for school librarians. National Association of Independent Schools. Online. .

Hand, D. Independent school libraries: Perspectives on excellence. (2010). Santa Barbara, CA: Libraries Unlimited.

National Association of Independent Schools. Online.